Club hockey team’s ‘growing pains’ on display against Drexel

The Owls lost, 7-1, to the Dragons on Saturday at Class of 1923 Arena in University City, where they got outshot 59-27.

Temple players try to poke the puck away from Drexel forward James Schickling as he tries to score off a rebound from sophomore goaltender Benjamin Auerbach’s pad during the Owls’ 7-1 loss at Class of 1923 Arena on Saturday. | LUKE SMITH / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Drexel took its first two shots within the game’s first 10 seconds on Saturday and never relented its pressure on Temple’s defense.

The Dragons outshot Temple by 32 in their 7-1 win on Saturday night at Class of 1923 Arena in University City.

Turnovers plagued Temple (6-10-1, 0-4 Eastern Collegiate Hockey Association) in its defeat, the fifth in its last six games.

“We are having trouble executing our system,” coach Mark Spease said. “When you have 13 freshmen all trying to learn a new system, you are going to see some growing pains and a lot of those pains were on display tonight.”

Sophomore goalie Ben Auerbach faced 23 first-period shots. Auerbach had three key athletic saves by stretching his legs to keep the game scoreless until the 11-minute, 36-second mark in the first period.

Auerbach made 52 saves Saturday, denying some opportunities right in front of the Temple net.

“Ben is a terrific goalie,” Spease said. “I write a summary every week on how we did, and a reoccurring theme I see is that we continue to get outshot. And when you give up 59 shots, you are going to let a lot of goals in no matter who is the goalie.”

Drexel kicked the scoring off on a breakaway by Dylan Hart. Twenty-six seconds later, the Dragons doubled their lead with a goal by defenseman Mike Churchvara.

After Drexel netted its third goal with six minutes to go in the first, Temple pushed on the attack.

Junior forward Nick Van Allen tucked home a rebound for his fifth goal of the season with 4:29 left in the first period to make the score 3-1.

The Dragons had more than 15 blocked shots, including when Dragons forward Andrew Dezotell put his skate in front of freshman forward Shawn Fowler’s slap shot attempt at a wide-open Drexel net with the score at 3-1. Drexel goalie Dillon Gravenstine was out of position, but the block preserved the Dragons’ two-goal lead.

Besides the final six minutes of the first period, Temple couldn’t sustain consistent pressure on Drexel’s defense. The Owls’ defensive and neutral zone turnovers caused the Dragons to dominate the puck possession for the majority of the game.

The Owls had to shuffle their lines after the first period because freshman forward Brendan Ondick left the game after he felt under the weather, Spease said. Ondick leads the team in goals, assists and points.

Ondick entered the weekend’s action with 34 points, which tied for third among Division I players in the American Collegiate Hockey Association.

“Losing Ondick did not help one bit,” Spease said. “Our transition game was really poor today. We work on developing rushes out of our defensive zone all the time. But when these kids have more than 10 years of previous bad habits, it will be hard to break those.”

Temple will face Elon University on Sunday at the Flyers Skate Zone in Northeast Philadelphia. The Owls will treat the game like a “glorified practice” to correct their mistakes, Spease said.

“We have to right the ship,” Spease said. “Tomorrow is a non-league game, so we will go in with the focus of tuning some things up. The first two things that need to be fixed is our net-front presence in our own zone and offensive zone entry.”

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